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ROMANTIC BUG: Once upon a time there was "dewy-eyed princess and . . . a Volkswagen Beetle?

Romance writing may never be the same after Harlequin Enterprises' "Win a New Beetle" contest. Launched in honor of Harlequin's newest line of romance fiction, Harlequin Duets, the contest is soliciting romantic stories, 200 words or fewer, that feature the Beetle. The new Duets series focuses on the lighter side of love, so keep your entries breezy. Off-color remarks, profanity or obscene material are not welcome. The contest is open to all residents of the United States and Canada, age 21 and over.

To enter, send your story to Harlequin Duets' "Win a New Beetle" Contest, Harlequin Enterprises, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9, by Nov. 30. Include your name, address and daytime telephone. Official contest rules and entry forms can be found on the Harlequin Website at www.romance.net/beetle.html. The grand prize winner will be awarded a new yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Isn't that romantic?

SOUTHERN CRITICS" PICKS:

Bone by Bone, the third book in a Florida-based trilogy by Peter Matthiessen has won this year's top fiction award given by the Southern Book Critics Circle. The trilogy, which began with Killing Mr. Watson and continued with Lost Man's River, is a fictional account of the life and times of real-life Everglades desperado E.J. Watson.

Peter Guralnick's Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley was named the top winner in the non-fiction category of the critics' Southern Book Awards. The book chronicles the last half life of the singer and pop culture icon and is a sequel to Guralnick's 1994 Elvis biography Last Train to Memphis.

The Southern Book Awards, which have been given out for the past 10 years, will be presented Oct. 8 at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tenn. The Southern Book Critics Circle, composed of book editors and reviewers at newspapers and magazines in the South, including the St. Petersburg Times, also will honor writer Eudora Welty with its Distinguished Achievement Award for her lifetime contributions to Southern literature.

Runners-up for the fiction award include Roxanna Slade by Reynolds Price and A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. Non-fiction runners-up are Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son by Christopher Dickey and Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century by Randall Kenan.

Up next:BOOK TALK

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